Students asked to use own laptops and tablets 0
A plan is underway to have Vancouver students bring their own smartphones, tablets and laptops for use in the classroom, as there are far fewer school devices available than students.
Four schools — Kitchener, Renfrew, Lord Byng and Eric Hamber — will begin a pilot project in early 2014, with students bringing their own devices to class with their parents’ permission, according to district principal of learning technologies Audrey Van Alstyne.
But the biggest concern — shared by teachers, parents and administrators — is how to address students who can’t afford the pricey electronics.
Van Alstyne said Vancouver schools currently have about 66 “carts,” each filled with 15 to 30 devices. The district itself has another 15 carts teachers can sign out.
She said students will be expected to share their self-purchased devices, in pairs or in groups per device, while school-based electronics can be used to supplement any gaps.
School trustee Mike Lombardi added about 60% of Vancouver students currently own smart phones, and the move is “recognition” that kids are becoming increasingly connected to the digital world.
The main concern is ensuring no students are left without a device, according to Debbie Pawluk, head of the Vancouver Secondary Teachers’ Association.
Other issues Pawluk wants addressed are inadequate Internet speeds, device incompatibility, inappropriate classroom use, theft and lack of technical support.
“It seems like there’s a lot of background work, a lot of how-tos that need to be addressed,” Pawluk said.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as a completely bad idea. With any form of learning you have to be judicious as to how to apply it.”
For Monica Moberg, chair of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council, parents are tired of having to hold bake sales and fundraisers to pay for what she considers the government’s lack of student funding.
“Every school I’ve spoken with just about has had a request from the administration to the PAC to fund for technology,” she said.
“The government is going to have to realize that they have to make some capital investments in technology,” she said.